Money may be on the way for Monkey Run

One of the flooded out homes in Monkey Run. / File photo

Six families in Monkey Run and two families in Saverton, Missouri still deal with the repercussions of the Flood of 2008 every day.

They didn't qualify for a FEMA buyout.

Now, some 20 months after the flood, they finally may get some closure.

"Patience is a virtue, but patience is wearing out," says Michael Miller.

Michael Miller and his wife used to call Monkey Run home. But since the summer of 2008, they haven't lived there, and now they don't want to go back. That's a tough decision because Michael's wife's grandfather built this home. Even though their family roots run deep here, they know how deep the Mississippi River can get when it floods. The Millers and the other families who didn't qualify for the FEMA buyout turned to State Representative Rachel Bringer for some help. She called FEMA and asked for a special contractor to come run the numbers again for Ralls County. That contractor came, and agreed the cost to buyout the homes didn't make sense for the federal government. Late last year, the Ralls County Commission applied for a Community Development Block Grant through the state Department of Economic Development. That grant would use federal money for a flood buyout program. And just a few days ago, Representative Bringer learned that the state of Missouri was awarded a Social Services Disaster Grant from the federal government. Now the plan is to use both grants for the flood buyout. I spoke with a representative from SEMA - that's the state emergency management agency - who told me he doesn't see any major issues ahead, and is optimistic the grants will be approved. The Mark Twain Council of Governments is helping in the process and will soon begin meeting with the families to do some preliminary studies.

"We're a few weeks away while the reviews are done. In the meantime, I believe there will be some activity analyzing some pre-flood market value of the homes. We'll look at the needs that'll be funded through the Social Services Block Grants. We're not talking an overnight process. I foresee this will take months," says Dante Gliniecki with SEMA.

The ball is rolling, but it has to roll fast. The Social Services Grant has to be spent by the end of this year. For the families who've been affected, like the Millers and their neighbors Ray and Betsy Kurz, this could be welcome news for their financial future.

"It's not only finances, it's closure. They told us it could take two years in extreme cases. We're up to 20 months right now," says Ray Kurz.

"I'm so grateful that the state and county are working together to find other sources of funding for this project, but it shouldn't be this difficult. It's been so long and these individuals have waited so long. I'm disappointed the federal and state couldn't work more quickly to move this forward," says Rachel Bringer.

These grants could end up being even better than a FEMA buyout because Social Services is all about helping to alleviate suffering. That means some of the money could help the families with some of the emotional and physical hardships they've faced the past 20 months.

If the grants are approved, and the buyout goes as planned, six homes in Monkey Run and two in Saverton will be leveled.

According to law, no structure could be built there again.